Made-For-TV Movie: Unspeakable Acts

This week we go high brow with our made for TV film, choosing Unspeakable Acts, an ABC movie-of-the-week from 1990 starring Jill Clayburgh. Unspeakable Acts is based on the novel of the same name by Jan Hollingsworth, and about the Country Walk daycare trial in 1985.

Country Walk Babysitting Service was a Miami daycare facility prosecuted for sex abuse against children. In 1985 there were also accusations of satanic rituals and animal sacrifice, which seemed to be very “in” during the intersection of daycare abuse and satanic panic. Nevertheless, Frank Fuster is currently serving his sentence, having been found guilty on 14 counts of child abuse (with an additional 165 years).

The film does not lack for talent or empathy, but it’s pretty boring, which is a shame, because in addition to Clayburgh, the film stars Brad Davis and Bebe Neuwirth. Davis and Clayburgh are Drs. Joseph and Laurie Braga, who were then lauded for their work successfully interviewing children and toddlers about abuse. (The New York Times gave the film a positive review.) The abused children are paid by then-budding child stars, Miko Hughes (Full House, Pet Semetery) and Joseph Mazzello (Jurassic Park). Neuwirth, who always dazzles on screen, is relegated to the first half of the film, as an overwrought, upperclass mother everything thinks is hysterical, lending a very droll film the element of frustration, since she is right to worry.

Sadly, which Unspeakable Acts is more respectful than the classic Lifetime fare, it’s certainly less interesting.

Unspeakable Acts is streaming on Netflix.

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